COUNCIL tenants in Teesdale are facing a rise of as much as £1.38 a week from April.

Chris Carveth, finance officer for Teesdale District Council, said the 2.53 per cent increase was part of a ten-year restructuring programme.

He said that the Government initiative, although not a statutory requirement, was designed to bring council rents more into line with those charged by housing associations.

But at a full meeting of the council, members said they were concerned that a low rise this year, in some cases only 75p, would mean massive increases next year.

The chairman, Councillor Newton Wood, asked if housing association rents would be brought down to meet council rents halfway, or would council rents just go up.

Mr Carveth said it might mean slightly higher rises if they were doing the programme over eight years instead of the prescribed ten, but it was his understanding that some housing association rents would come down to meet council prices.

He gave three reasons why the restructuring programme had not begun.

He said the new housing IT package had been deferred to allow the options appraisal study to be completed, pressure on staff to update systems because of implementation problems with new systems, and the absence of the principal accountant, whose detailed knowledge of housing finance was required to implement rent restructuring.